About wench

Wench is based in Louisville KY. What started as a Selfcare Health Education Collective in 2005 has bloomed and flourished and exploded and re-rooted and bloomed again and again. We now wench (verb) all over the US and beyond. Many are still in KY fighting for abortion access, repro and racial justice, and bodily autonomy for all.

Dear Metro Council


Last week, we blogged about a resolution which was being sponsored by Louisville Metro Council members Engle, Kramer, and Parker. The resolution would give the blessing of our local Metro Government to a bill being discussed in Legislative bodies in Frankfort this session. HB103 would place medically unnecessary requirements on medical professionals and their patients.

Before I share the letter I penned to Louisville Metro Council members opposing the resolution and HB103, I want to highlight another bill that has been filed in Frankfort this session. If it sounds off the wall to you, consider why Rep Marzian would file this bill:

HB 234 (BR 984) – M. Marzian

    AN ACT relating to medical and nursing schools.

    Create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 to require all medical and nursing schools established and assisted financially by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to cease all training of any health care providers and the provision of any health care services; require all medical and nursing schools to refer citizens who are requesting advice or health care services to their state representative or state senator.

Here is my response to the resolution supporting HB103, which for now has been taken off the Government Oversight Committee’s calendar. This letter was intended for each Metro Council Person to be delivered prior to the committee hearing. 

Dear Louisville Metro Council Person;

I write as a resident of District 6, a voter, and a passionate advocate for freedom and bodily autonomy.

I write to express my deep concern for the resolution sponsored by representatives from districts 22, 11, and 18, which aimed to endorse House Bill 103, placing additional requirements on patients seeking reproductive care, and the medical staff providing them that care.

In 2017, the Kentucky Legislature passed a similar law, known as the “Narrated Ultrasound Law” which required medical staff to verbally describe an ultrasound image to a patient, prior to terminating a pregnancy. This was one of several efforts by the state to restrict access to legal care while shaming individuals and families. While ultrasounds are commonly performed to determine size and location of a pregnancy, these laws place medically unnecessary punishments in the path of patients, and licensed medical professionals.

Since the passage of the 2017 law, a federal district court has found that law to be unconstitutional. Despite that, our legislature seems determined to leverage their power – at the expense of taxpayers – to continue restricting access to abortion care, and bodily autonomy. In addition to appealing the ruling mentioned above, lawmakers are also attempting to pass HB103 which closely resembles that unconstitutional law. HB103 is only different in that instead of requiring the provider to verbally describe the ultrasound image to the patient (while granting permission for them to close or avert their eyes or cover their ears – which is demeaning, insulting, and patronizing at best), this equally unconstitutional bill requires the patient be given a written description of the ultrasound.

To me, this requirement is eerily similar to behaviors seen on the sidewalk outside of clinics nationwide. In Louisville extremists force their opinions, literature, and physical bodies at individuals seeking care, without their consent. One way that HB103’s attempt at reproductive coercion mirrors the action of dangerous extremists is a complete disregard for whether or not the information being forced on patients is thought to be helpful, or desired by those individuals.

HB103 and similar laws require providers to deliver unnecessary information to their patients, even if they verbally decline. On the sidewalk outside of EMW in Louisville, individuals are forced to endure verbal (sometimes amplified) harassment, physical threats and assault, plus gruesome inaccurate images despite clear requests to be left alone. Considering what patients go through just to get to the clinic, the idea of legislative bodies forcing medical staff to perform unnecessary and undesired actions on their patients is deeply troubling.

In 1973 the US Supreme Court clearly ruled that decisions about one’s reproductive care are to be made by a patient with support from their care providers. Since then, states have erected restrictions designed to make access as challenging as possible. I find this unacceptable, and for Metro Council to be hesitant to put public safety measures in place outside our Commonwealth’s only clinic, while simultaneously endorsing additional restrictions on access is beyond disappointing.

Attached please find the results of a recent study by the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), which examined and scored 40 cities based on 37 indicators in the areas of reproductive health, rights, and justice. Our “Compassionate City” scored 1.5 out of 5 stars, not just due to barriers to abortion access, but also for lacking in areas such as protections for pregnant people, and working parents. I believe Metro Government could do a lot to improve our score in this well researched study. I know that passing a resolution in support of further punishing people seeking reproductive care is not moving in the right direction. When NIRH released their findings last Fall, they kindly created a Model City blueprint to highlight the ways in which truly compassionate cities can step up and take care of their citizens. Please take a look at the Model City profile and think critically about what kind of city we are creating for current and future residents, and how we might improve the expereinces of those individuals and families who call Louisville home.


Resident of D6

Louisville KY

Final scorecard

BOLD the Future!


This week, All* Above All, The National Network of Abortion Funds, member funds like Kentucky Health Justice Network, and others are creating spaces for conversations and action planning all around North America. #BOLDtheFuture is this year’s campaign to raise awareness about the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment is the federal law which has, for 42 years, defined abortion as the ONLY medical procedure for which medicaid recipients cannot access aid, thus requiring Abortion Funds to make up the difference.

Through these spaces and conversations we make a commitment to be boldly unapologetic in demanding and working for Reproductive Justice. Part of our commitment is to #BeBoldEndHyde through a political strategy to eliminate the amendment. Hyde is not permanent, so first we will vote our way back toward bodily autonomy from municipalities and states to Washington DC, and do away with this unjust law that hurts all of us.

Today, legislatures at state and federal levels are still working regulate people’s bodies and attempt to control our lives – but you know what? We will be bold, and brave, because we have to – and also because we all deserve better.

This video features a POWERFUL message about the kind of oppression that we see five days as week on the sidewalks at EMW. Please watch, and be inspired, then read on to learn more about this week of action. Join us as we #BoldTheFuture right now, and move forward knowing that it’s always the right time to talk about why abortion access is important.

Video transcript here.

Visioning a Bold Future – from National Network of Abortion Funds

IN THE FUTURE… Each of us lives with dignity and respect, and without politicians dictating our decisions.

IN THE FUTURE… The Hyde Amendment no longer punishes low-income people by banning insurance coverage for abortion. No one is forced to delay care, stopped from getting an abortion, or pushed deeper into poverty.

IN THE FUTURE… We get the care we need. Without obstacles, free of shame. With respect, support, and coverage.

When our vision is uncompromising, we BOLD the Future.

For abortion funds and network leaders committed to funding abortion and building power, Bold the Future Week of Action is an opportunity to organize at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice and to center those most impacted and their communities to leverage political and cultural change.

BOLD The Future empowers new and experienced leaders to co-create spaces where they can speak truth to power, connect with others, and devise plans of action that are meaningful to the people impacted.

The National Network of Abortion Funds believes in grassroots, community-led organizing. We believe that sharing stories and connecting around our lived experience begets trust and that, with enough trust, we are willing to take more risks together, make bigger demands for justice together. When we know that our personal narrative is connected to the heartbeat and rhythm of communities we care about all across this network, it becomes clearer what we must do, and it becomes easier to do so unafraid. With a wave of anti-abortion legislation and harassment affecting people we love, it is important now more than ever to dig deep, to build roots of trust, interdependence, and resilience.

To learn more about becoming an individual member of NNAF click here. We suggest you anchor your membership with Kentucky Health Justice Network to stay engaged in what’s happening in Kentucky!

On the possible parole of Dr David Gunn’s killer.

Last week, a call to action went out asking Clinic Escort groups, and other abortion access supporters to write letters expressing concerns ahead of the upcoming parole hearing for the anti-abortion extremist who murdered Dr David Gunn in Pensacola FL in 1993. David Gunn Jr and family are petitioning the Parole Commission in Tallahassee on November 1, 2017.

Michael Griffin also shot a clinic escort when he killed Dr Gunn. Of course we wanted to write a letter.


Here is the letter we sent to the Parole Commission:

To: Parole Commission, Tallahassee FL

From: Louisville Clinic Escorts

October 26, 2017

Dear Parole Board,

It’s come to our attention that the United States Parole Commission will be reviewing the case of Michael Frederick Griffin on November 1, 2017. We want to take this opportunity to express concerns about his possible parole.

This letter is from individuals who volunteer as clinic escorts in Louisville KY. We have first hand experience with truly frightening people who hold extreme beliefs about justifiable homicide, or stopping abortions by any means necessary. Staff and volunteers at clinics everywhere endure verbal aggression and physical threats daily from people who draw inspiration from Michael Griffin. To them, Mr. Griffin is a hero for shooting Dr. Gunn, and a clinic escort in 1993. For that reason we want to submit a firm request to this parole board that you consider the implications of a ripple effect that could be triggered by an early release of this murderer, who may appear reformed before your panel, while in fact being poised to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

Already, we’ve seen extreme behaviors from followers of Griffin, and a willingness to break the law up to and including murdering doctors. In 2009 Scott Roeder murdered George Tiller with a bullet to the head in his church in Wisconsin. More recently in 2015, Robert Dear invaded Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains with explicit intent to kill people there with a personal firearm, as well as home-made explosives. In the spring of 2017 we saw members of extremist group Operation Save America intentionally violate federal law at our one Kentucky clinic to test the DOJ’s willingness to persecute FACE Act violations. We know that copy cats like Roeder and Dear draw inspiration from Griffin, and we would see it as Mr Griffin’s responsibility – if reformed – to denounce these behaviors publicly, specifically to anti-abortion groups and individuals. We would ask the parole board to consider Mr Griffin’s perceived willingness to do exactly this and incorporate this demand into potential parole terms.

We also ask that you consider how Mr. Griffin may be accountable for his actions going forward, considering that the approach of restorative justice asks perpetrators to repay their debts by repairing the damage done to those who suffered due to the actions of those who are supposedly reformed. We ask that if Mr Griffin is released, he make a commitment to ensure that others do not draw inspiration from his crime.

Mr Griffin’s actions caused irreparable harm to the friends and family of Dr. David Gunn, as well as clinic staff and volunteers everywhere who’ve had to ask if this work is worth risking our lives, considering that the mindset of extremists like Griffin cannot be jailed. In our minds, justice has not been served for the Gunn family.

In addition to the pain and suffering felt by Dr. Gunn’s family and colleagues, there has been immeasurable impact to countless individuals who did and would have sought care from Dr. Gunn, who were instead forced to seek care from another provider, or go without.

We believe that people can change. If Mr. Griffin has truly had a change of heart, perhaps an adaptation to the original life sentence given to him is reasonable. The responsibility of this parole board in determining whether or not Mr. Griffin is a threat to society is a great one. We ask that any terms of his potential parole be proactive to prevent further damage by actions similar to Mr. Griffin’s.

Thank you for the opportunity to highlight some dangerous results that could be triggered by Mr Griffin’s release, even if he himself is not a threat at this time.


Louisville Clinic Escorts


Michael Griffin’s actions didn’t happen in a vacuum, and extremist beliefs cannot be jailed. We think that if Griffin is reformed, there is responsibility beyond being locked up if justice is going to be served, so that people will be able to provide and obtain safe, legal healthcare without needing to worry about personal safety.

Louisville Receives 1.5 Out of 5 Stars in Reproductive Health Index


Louisville Clinic Escorts and Kentucky Health Justice Network urge City Leaders to Take a Stand and Expand Protections for Reproductive Freedom.

National Institute for Reproductive Health Releases First-Of-Its-Kind Initiative to Evaluate and Lay a Blueprint for Advancing Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice Policies in Cities

About the Local Reproductive Freedom Index

Louisville KY – The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) just released the Local Reproductive Freedom Index, a first-of-its-kind initiative to evaluate the reproductive health, rights and justice policies of 40 U.S. cities including Louisville, which received 1.5 out of five stars.

View the Louisville report HERE!

Louisville Clinic Escorts and Kentucky Health Justice Network are calling upon Louisville Metro Council and Mayor Greg Fischer to advance and protect reproductive freedoms in light of the constant threat from state and federal governments.
Since the GOP took control of the Kentucky legislature in 2015, we have seen multiple unconstitutional abortion restrictions passed into law, plus the satellite location of EMW, which was in Lexington, permanently closed, leaving just one abortion clinic in the entire Commonwealth. Between the legal efforts to eliminate clinics, and consistent verbal and physical attacks and intimidation tactics on the sidewalk outside EMW, we know that access to legal abortions is under constant threat here.
The Local Index focuses on more than just abortion access, though, and shows us that Louisville has a long way to go, especially if city officials want to live up to the “Compassionate City” branding which they so proudly claim with words, while actions tell a different tale.
Using 37 unique policy indicators, NIRH’s Local Reproductive Freedom Index calculates how individual cities are protecting and advancing reproductive rights across a range of categories including access to abortion clinics, funding and coverage for reproductive health care, support for young people and families and advancement of inclusive policies. NIRH also provides a Model City roadmap that can be used to inspire and guide better policies at the local level.
Final scorecard
The Index shows that some cities have already started stepping up to resist the Trump administration’s assault on reproductive healthcare. We are calling on Louisville to use the Index as a guide to improve reproductive freedom and lead the way for the rest of Kentucky.
Local advocates have been working for more than a year to ask Metro Council to make safer sidewalks outside of the only clinic here. Now more than ever we recognize a need for access, and we will continue to work with partners to hold Metro Council accountable, but also to stand firm in Frankfort, as Matt Bevin, Dan Johnson, and others remain determined to put the lives and bodies of individuals at risk for the sake of their beliefs, rather than protecting the rights and families of Kentuckians who deserve access to safe and legal healthcare.
“As the federal government works to strip women of control over their reproductive and sexual lives, and many states move to pass even more draconian anti-abortion restrictions than in previous years, local action is becoming increasingly important,”said Andrea Miller, president of NIRH and the NIRH Action Fund.“Right now, Louisville has an opportunity to advance and protect reproductive freedom, and the Local Index provides a blue print for actions that cities can act upon.”
“The launch of the Local Reproductive Freedom Index is taking NIRH’s city-based advocacy model to the next level,” Miller said.“We know that radical progress starts local–and that now is the time for cities to hold their own and protect their residents.”

Marcie Crim, Executive Director, Kentucky Health Justice Network said “We’re lucky to have some elected officials in Louisville who support reproductive freedom, but we also know there’s a lot more work that needs to be done. With the Local Index, we now have a roadmap of how our city can improve the reproductive health and lives of city residents.”

Advocates, policymakers, and citizens can visit localrepro.org to see how their cities fare and to learn about specific actions they can take to influence positive community change. NIRH will be hosting a public webinar to introduce the Local Index on October 19th and invite folks to join by registering here.

About the National Institute for Reproductive Health

The National Institute for Reproductive Health builds power at the state and local level to change public policy, galvanize public support, and normalize women’s decisions about abortion and contraception.
Using a partnership model, we provide state and local advocates with strategic guidance, hands-on support, and funding to create national change from the ground up. We are a force multiplier–we form strategic partnerships with a wide range of organizations to directly impact there productive health and lives of women across the country. Since 2008, NIRH has provided direct grants and hands-on support to more than 145 reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations in 37 states and 50 localities across the country.
At the national level, we go where others don’t, engaging in groundbreaking public opinion research, proactive policy initiatives, and innovative advocacy campaigns to shape a new national conversation about reproductive freedom.



In late August, anti-abortion groups successfully purchased the building that Dr Leroy Carhart was operating a clinic in, and terminated the lease abruptly, forcing the clinic to close.

This impacted people from all over the US, and delivered a palpable blow to patients, providers, and abortion funds who had appointments, or made referrals to that clinic.

The good news is: a handful of weeks later (which can translate to higher risk of complications AND a few extra THOUSAND dollars when we’re talking about needing to wait or travel for an abortion) Dr Carhart has been able to secure a new location for his Maryland practice, and is on track to open in just a few days.

This is GREAT news for access! CONGRATULATIONS to all involved in this wonderful development!

What it takes

Infographic from the Third Wave Foundation

Sights from the circus. Worth a million words.


Several of us are still processing the intensity that took place when extremists invaded our city last week. They aimed to close down the clinic, but we are not willing to let them halt legal abortion in our state, not even for a day or a week. Escorts planned, trained, and stood firm for access. Here are some of the images we captured from ground zero. Unless otherwise specified, these pics were taken by individual Louisville Clinic Escorts. All photos shared with permission.

Barely controlled chaos






A busy downtown alley where lots of people drive to their parking spot is not a place for a tailgate party.



On EMW property, blocking staff entrance


Decibels beyond reason.

If you think it looks like they’ve taught their children to harass, you are not the only one thinking that.

Vince Heuser is the local attorney who is currently representing OSA. He also offered to do pro-bono work for Scott Roeder after he murdered Dr George Tiller in 2009. Here he is trespassing at the staff entrance, standing in the buffer zone attempting to negotiate with a US Marshal, and distracting the local bomb squad who were on duty every day, due to the threats made by Heuser’s clients….

The (escorts’) look says it all.



Photo by McCausland





As reflected in our Media Policy and Points of Unity, we are aware that the presence of cameras can be frightening for clients and companions and have real consequences for escorts too. For that reason, we seldom welcome photographers to the sidewalk. On rare occasions, some photographers do behave respectfully and may be unobtrusive. A team of two local folks managed to capture some breathtaking images, and granted us permission to share them. Credit in captions.


By McCausland


By McCausland


By McCausland


By McCausland


By McCausland


Photo by Daniel Hosterman


By McCausland


By McCausland

Sidewalk Snippet 7/29/17


As the week long invasion by extremists piddled on, the feelings stirring in our city shifted a number of times. For me, as the days ticked by it became obvious that OSA has no power here. Their gruesome bullying tactics were not well received, even by some of our regular antis who were pushed out of their favorite posts on the sidewalk, and forced to park further away than usual.

The Clinic Escort’s detailed planning was highly effective, and as the days proceeded and people continually made it to their appointments, some protesters seemed frustrated, while others just seemed defeated.

On their final day, one preacher was positioned in the back alley with a sound system facing the staff entrance to the clinic. He was complaining into the mic about the news coverage from the week, which had started as quite a frenzy, and fizzled out as the news cycled on, like it does. This preacher whined “Why won’t CNN and CBS talk about the real issue here?!?! Why aren’t they talking about abortion??? That’s what we are here to talk about!!!”

Now of course there would be no point in me attempting to explain to this preacher that there is really no news to report about abortion, so I stayed at my post and continued my duties. In my head I had to chuckle about this whiny presentation from a defeated and delusional zealot. The circus being in town was news worthy, until it wasn’t. People making decisions about their bodies and their lives for their families and themselves is not news. That is normal everyday shit. Every day. Normal. Legal. And accessible as can be as long as we can do anything about it.


To: Louisville Metro Council; From: a seasoned and concerned clinic escort.


There is a lot of discussion of the buffer zone in front of our clinic right now, since the USDOJ is pursuing federal charges against the 10 people who violated the FACE act on May 13. The Temporary Restraining Order will remain in effect until August 4th, and Federal Marshal will continue enforcing it. Some clinic escorts are concerned that when the lines are removed and all the extra law enforcement and news cameras go away, what will remain could be a quite dangerous situation. We are seeing behaviors this week that really compound the need for a small safety zone that will allow clients and their companions to walk from a stopped car to the clinic door without being blockaded by people who feel entitled to force their views on someone else.


Below is a letter to Louisville’s Metro Council from a veteran escort, urging them to come to the sidewalk and see how essential it is to create safer spaces, and also to assist law enforcement in being able to enforce the laws that exist to preserve everyone’s rights, especially, those of the patient.

July 20, 2017

Louisville Metro Council Members

Dear Council Member:

I was at the Council meeting July 19 for the discussion of a 20 foot buffer zone at EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the abortion clinic.  Even if there is no buffer zone created, there are several facts that were not brought up I thought the Council members should be aware of.  I am an escort at the clinic.  One of the escorts had called to get information about the meeting and was told that there wouldn’t be much time for citizen speakers; therefore, few pro-choice supporters were ready with statements.

As escorts we are not counter-protesters.  We’re there to give information to clients about where to park, and to walk with them and their companions to the clinic.  We don’t try to keep them away from the “sidewalk counselors.”  But the patients are often alarmed and worried about the many protesters present.  (They typically outnumber escorts about three to one, especially on Saturdays.)  Opposing sides can’t easily be relegated to certain areas because both protesters and escorts are walking with the clients from the various parking areas to the clinic entrance.

When “counselors” talk to the patients, patients often tell them to leave them alone; but the preaching doesn’t stop.  Some examples of “counseling” are, “You’ll never get over this”, “Your relationship will never be the same”, “Real men don’t kill their babies”, “Don’t be a wimp”, “He’ll leave you after you have that abortion”, and “Your chances of breast cancer are greatly increased after an abortion” (not true).  The patients must pass through a gauntlet of protesters on both sides of the sidewalk on their way to the clinic, only to get there and find a crowd of people they must walk around who are yelling at them (this is typical for Saturdays).  It’s really intimidation and harassment.  Plus, what an insult to women to assume they haven’t thought long and hard about their situation before arriving at the clinic.

Please come down sometime, and see for yourself what it’s like.  But don’t stay in your car.  The police stay in their cars across the street or around the corner and don’t see these details.  I am glad they are finally paying attention to the clinic; I wish they would get out of their cars and be on the sidewalk.

Very truly yours,

PG [name and address omitted for safety]

cc: Chief of Police

Louisville Police Department

EMW Women’s Surgical Center


Temporary Restraining Order GRANTED by Federal Judge


Louisville’s Clinic Escorts are thrilled with the news today that Judge Hale has granted the temporary restraining order against the members of the group who were arrested for blockading Louisville’s only abortion provider in May.

We have been paying close attention to the group since the event was announced late last year, and it has long been clear to us that these individuals intend to violate numerous laws in order to disrupt access. To watch them brag about their intent to do so with the expectation that they will face no repercussions has been infuriating. Today they have received a clear message that their interpretation of the Bible does not place them above the law. After having read the orders, we would like to make a few points clear for our supporters and for all those who may find themselves in the area for various reasons during this time.

First, this is a federal matter, separate from the earlier trespassing charges that resulted in the individuals signing an agreement that they would remain across the street from the clinic. It will be enforced by US Marshals, and not by LMPD.

Second, the TRO applies only the named defendants and their associates or those acting in concert with them. The “buffer zone” in front of the clinic that is being enforced by federal marshals does not, per the order, apply to others. In short, the order does not create a buffer zone as most of us are used to thinking of one: it does not establish a space that is to be free of any protesters. This temporary order is in no way related to recent exploratory talks with Louisville Metro Council about a potential safety zone ordinance.

The marshals enforcing the TRO, and keeping those to whom it applies out of the buffer zone area, will have to decide who qualifies. We do not yet know what that will look like.

Finally, the order explicitly confirms the right of volunteer escorts to be present.

Read the official orders here:


PI Hearing

Where would they go? Part Two – The Patients


Please also read Part One – the antis, and Part Three – the clinic staff.

Before I get into where the patients would go in the event that controlling power hungry oppressors get their wish, I want to take a moment to make sure our readers truly realize what it already takes for a Kentuckian to get an abortion. In April, Kentucky Health Justice Network outlined the barriers that many folks face before they even get to the clinic in this post:

The True Cost of Abortion in Kentucky

Effective Tuesday April 11, 2017, due to additional overhead from the new ultrasound law, increased staff needs and legal costs, EMW is raising their prices by $50 across the board.  That means the least expensive procedure (medication abortion, using the pill) will cost $700 per person. Someone at 14 weeks will have to pay $1150. Twenty weeks: $2050.

Those procedures costs are some of the highest in the nation, but there are costs far beyond that. Here is a breakdown of what it really costs:

If someone has a negative blood type, they will have to pay extra for a Rhogam shot. $60 if they are under 12 weeks, $150 if they are over 12 weeks.

If they do not live in Jefferson County, they will have to travel up to 250 miles round trip. That requires access to a reliable vehicle, and usually a companion to do the driving post-op. (So, also factor in gas money. Yes, maybe they could fly or ride a greyhound but would they take cabs to and from the airport, bus station, hotel, clinic, etc?)

The law requires they receive informed consent counseling 24 hours before the procedure. Some people take two trips to the clinic for this.  Some do it via web app but that requires access to Internet or smart phone data, plus a safe environment for a video conference call, which can be a big challenge for people in rural areas.

If they are a parent, childcare arrangement must be made, and sometimes paid for.

They may need to stay in Louisville overnight, which could cost $70-100 per night, plus cost of meals while away from home.

All this could require taking 3-5 days off work, which could mean losing a substantial chunk of income, or risking job loss.

All this to access safe legal care, that insurance could cover if it wasn’t for politicians trying to control our bodies and our lives.

THANKS, KHJN for that informative breakdown and also for running the Support Fund, which provides direct and practical support for Kentuckians facing barriers to abortion access, even when they have to travel out of state for care, which brings us back to our title query: Where Would They Go?

Kentucky is bordered by 7 states.

Indiana is home to four abortion clinics, and VP Mike Pence.  Many believe that if KY loses its clinic, IN won’t be too far behind.  I disagree, but have learned in the last year or so to not be too comfy or confident because those in power do intend to strip every right to bodily autonomy away from us, and they are wealthy, resourceful, and punishing- at best. Abortions in Indiana are only available prior to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Ohio has about 3.5 clinics right now.  One clinic in Cincinnati had to modify their services because of harsh restrictions that have no medical justification. For now, that facility can only offer medication abortion (with the pill) prior to 7 weeks of pregnancy, plus pre-op requirements for patients who live close to there, but then would have to travel to another location in Dayton where a termination can be performed.  For many folks living in Central or Northern KY, these OH clinics would be the closest options.

Illinois has some of the least restrictive laws, and several clinics. It is also the Bluegrass State’s neighbor that is least convenient for most KYians to get to. It’s likely that most people traveling to IL for care would be doing so to access abortions later in pregnancy.  Those surgeries can cost as much as $3600 and are often medically necessary due to a variety of complications and health risk.

Missouri is also home to just one clinic- the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. Anyone accessing abortion care in Missouri will be subjected to a SEVENTY-TWO HOUR WAIT, you know, because grown people cannot be trusted to know what they need when they make their doctors appointments. Seems like there would be similar regulations on things like erectile dysfunction meds…oh, wait.. nevermind, LOL. Due to that wait, I cannot imagine KYians choosing MO for an abortion unless they live very close to that state, and have supportive family or friends they can stay with. That medically unnecessarily waiting period is a huge barrier.

Virginia has several clinics, but they are also heavily regulated. Abortions performed beyond the first trimester must be done in a hospital, possibly with the approval of a second physician. There is a 24 hour waiting period, plus mandatory ultrasounds, and parental consent requirements for minors, among lots of other medically unnecessary laws.  Again, KYians needing care would likely only travel to VA if it were convenient for them personally, which is unlikely for the bulk of KY residents.

West Virginia is in a similar boat as KY, with one remaining clinic open in Charleston, which is neighbored by a (you guessed it) crisis pregnancy center- which can be especially confusing for folks coming from out of town. The drive to Charleston and back would be over 500 miles for most KYians.

Tennessee has a handful of abortion clinic, which are of course, outnumbered by deceptive crisis pregnancy centers, including a mobile unit.  Nashville or Bristol has the locations that would be most convenient for Kentuckians being forced to travel for care. Anyone seeking an abortion in TN must endure a 48 waiting period, so we can imagine that a KYian going to TN for care would need a place to stay, or have to make two trips.

All those options are only possibilities for people who have access to resources including social and emotional support, travel capabilities, the freedom and funds to take time off work, and many other hurdles including the biggest one: money.  Most states have one or more abortion fund, and some clinics have financial assistance programs, but for many, the hurdles created by stigma, crisis pregnancy centers, and legislation make it a miracle for folks to even be able to reach a clinic, or a fund in order to get factual information about the care available to them, and what it takes to get there.

We already know that google searches about how to induce an abortion at home are way up. We know that people with mouths to feed and bills to pay will take desperate and dangerous steps to end a pregnancy.  We know that stickers like this pictured below are appearing in public places because groups like Women Help Women want to make sure people have reliable, modern information, rather than questionable “guides” to using cottonroot bark, tansy, pennyroyal, and more to poison oneself in an effort to induce a miscarriage.

Unfortunately, I think the chilling truth that we have to face is that while people with resources will be able to travel to clinics mentioned above, those with fewer privileges in fact have fewer choices, and will likely end up repeating the drastic actions of people in poor, rural, or marginalized communities before Roe vs Wade. As we have already seen, these are also the communities most vulnerable to prosecution for the crime of taking care of their bodies.  This is why it’s vital to preserve access: so people can have compassionate and safe care in a medical setting. If only we can stop clinics from being regulated out of existence.